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John Ferguson (c. 1758–1791)

John Ferguson (c.1758-1791) was found guilty on 20 March 1786 at Exeter, Devon, of stealing 22 yards of linen. Sentenced to 7 years transportation, he was sent to the Dunkirk hulk. Discharged to the Charlotte in March 1787, he arrived at Sydney in January 1788 as part of the First Fleet.

On 25 July 1789 Ferguson received 100 lashes for writing an obscene and scandalous paper — the paper was given to the hangman to be burnt.

Ferguson was sent to Norfolk Island on the Sirius in March 1790. He apparently fell into a fire, in a fit, while preparing his breakfast on 4 October 1791 and died from his burns on 8 October.

Ralph Clark wrote in his journal:

this afternoon Fergusen the man that fell into the fire on the Morning of the 4 Inst in a fit died this afternoon — it is a fortunated thing for him that the almighty has takens him to himself.

information from

  • Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet (1989), p 125
  • The Journal and Letters of Lt. Ralph Clark 1787-1792 (2003)

Citation details

'Ferguson, John (c. 1758–1791)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Fergusen, John

c. 1758


8 March, 1791 (aged ~ 33)
Norfolk Island, Australia

Cause of Death


Passenger Ship
Key Events
Key Places
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years